The Gospel According to the Apostle John - Part 3

John - Chapter 3

As we come to chapter three one Pharisee, a man by the name of Nicodemus comes to Christ. Verse one tells us that Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. At this point we will look into a verse by verse outline of chapter three.

v. 1—Nicodemus, a pharisee, a ruler of the Jews comes to Jesus

v. 2—Some ask the question concerning Nicodemus’ night visit. Was it because he had business to attend to during the day? Or was it because he did not want to be seen by other religious leaders? All we know is that he came at night.

He recognized Christ as a man of God, and a great teacher because of His miracles, but never recognized Him as God Himself. He also called Him “Rabbi” which means “master”, an official title of honor, but again, no reference to His Godhood.

v. 3—Jesus makes His great statement “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Mathew 3:2 tells us, “Repent ye:for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus also makes it plain that being born again is the only way to experience the kingdom.

v. 4—The Greek word “anothen” is translated “again” in the phrase “born again”. It can also be translated “from above”. While it is true that being born again is to be born from above, it is obvious from Nicodemus’s statement that he was thinking in terms of being born “again” physically.

v 5, 6—Jesus explains that to be born a second time, one must be born the first time by water. A physical birth begins with a flood of water from the mother’s womb. This birth is of the flesh (verse 6). The second birth is a birth of the spirit by the Spirit (verse 6). Baptism is not what is pictured here because Christ plainly explains the water birth to be of the flesh in verse 6. Those that try to make this verse mean water baptism err, not knowing the Scriptures that Christ Himself interprets.

v.7-13—Nicodemus struggles with the whole concept so Christ draws in an Old Testament picture or “type” to explain further.

The Brazen Serpent

v. 14—Nicodemus understood the Old Testament teaching of Moses lifting up the brazen serpent, “And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that is a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (Numbers 21:9). Christ would now explain that in the same way, He would be lifted up on a Roman cross to die. If anyone would in faith behold Him, he too would be spared from the sting of sin. I Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law, But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

v.15,16—This brings us to the best known and loved verse in the entire Bible. It was because of God’s great love that His only begotten Son was to be lifted up. Salvation is a free gift given to all men who will receive it. The final price for sin has been paid. To the one who believes is given eternal life. Belief in this verse means to commit, to place trust in. In other words belief is not just believing, but putting our full trust in the fact of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That is the Gospel according to I Corinthians 15:3, 4, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

v.17,18—Jesus goes on to explain that the purpose of His coming was not to condemn the world. It was by His coming that men are saved. Men condemn themselves. It is the heart of belief and trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world that brings salvation. That is what being born again is all about. Salvation is the free, everlasting gift of God for a mankind that has no interest in serving Him. It is totally a gift of God’s grace.

v.19-21—The true light that had come into the world (John 1:9). The Light shows the sin and weaknesses of man. It reveals the fact that they are condemned. It reveals the fact that they do not measure up to the Light. It reveals the fact that men without being born again all come short of the glory of God. It is the man that seeks truth that comes to the Light.

The Woman at the Well

Moving on to chapter 4, Jesus becomes our example of sharing our faith. Jesus is to be our example in all areas of life. He is the One that gave us the instruction to go into the world and witness. He did not leave us without many examples as to how this was to be done. Chapter 4 is no exception.

We have already seen in chapter 3 Christ confronting Nicodemus with the concept of being born again. Nicodemus came to Him asking spiritual questions. No doubt, if we are living a Christ-like example before the world. People will at times come to you for spiritual insight. However, Christ’s mandate is to go to those that are lost. For the most part, they will not just show up on your doorstep begging you to lead them to Christ.

Very clearly, Jesus gave the “Great Commission” in each of the Gospels and the book of Acts (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). Without exception, we are to be “going”, not waiting.

It is my conviction that we live in a time of “easy-believism”. So often we twist people’s arms to say a prayer and then assume that they are on their way to Heaven. So often we throw some quick Bible verses at someone that has never been to church in their life, shove a prayer down their throats and then wonder why they never grow. Salvation is more than a prayer. Actually, a prayer is a work. It is the heart belief that is required for true salvation. Again, our example is Jesus Christ. Let us look at chapter 4.

We see in chapter 4:3 that Jesus was heading to Galilee. He needed to go through Samaria to get there (verse 4), but that was not the quickest way. There was another reason He had to go to Samaria, and that was because there was a divine appointment with a woman that He had to keep. Now let us briefly outline Jesus plan of salvation in chapter 4.

Notice in verse 6 that Jesus took a break at Jacob’s well. “Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.” The sixth hour was 12:00 noon, the time of day when people would be coming to the well for water. Even in Jesus’ human weakness of weariness, He still looked for opportunity to lead people to Himself as Savior. The lesson here is that if you are to win souls, you must first GO to where the souls are. You must have contact with the sinner for the sinner to repent.

Jesus made it clear in Luke 5:32, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If we are to win the lost we must go where they are. The righteous ones are at the church house. There is a tremendous need in this day and age for people to just be obedient to Christ and His example and GO.

Now Christ moves into stage two of His witnessing tactics. Verse 7, “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” His next step is to establish common ground. Both Jesus and the Samaritan woman were at the well to quench their thirst. Jesus made that plain.

It would do us well to establish a common interest, goal, or appreciation with those to whom we witness. There must be an establishment of common ground before we can expect the gap in uncommon ground to be bridged.

I am not a golfer, but I can appreciate the skill involved in sending a golf ball 300 yards to an exact spot. I may enter a home and see a set of golf clubs. Even though I do not know the first thing about golf, I still can appreciate it and bring it into the conversation to establish common ground. At the very least, we should be able to offer sincere compliments when witnessing. Insincerity shows through every time so if you do not really mean it, do not say it. But establish common ground.

The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritan “half-breeds”. Men did not generally have contact with women either, especially in a public place like the well. Christ used this as a way of getting the woman’s attention and arousing interest in what He was about to say.

We read in verse 9, “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”

Christ drew her in by the disregard for tradition and the respect of persons often missing in Jewish life. Whatever you can use to gain someone’s interest, use it. Maybe the topic of prophecy and the end times might draw someone’s attention. Perhaps just showing love and compassion to someone in need might be enough to get their attention and listen to what you have to say. At any rate, you must go where they are at, establish common ground, and arouse their interest.

Fourthly, proceed with caution. Sometimes we are so anxious to share what we have to say that we do not let the other person speak, but in verses 11-15, we see a gentle conversation, not a monologue. For sure, you must control the conversation,and we must stick with the issue. Notice in verse 20 that the woman attempts to change the subject. We must guide them in the direction, but also let them voice their thoughts and opinions. This will help determine where they are in their spiritual lives, and will give you better insight as to how to proceed.

Verses 16-18 probably was the touchiest times of Jesus conversation, but yet it was needed to bring her to salvation. In these verses, Jesus lovingly exposes her sin. Hard as it may be, people must see themselves as filthy sinners before a holy God to obtain salvation. Their personal sin must be confronted. They must be made aware that their sin separates them from a holy God. They must personally repent of that sin. Repentance is what brings salvation, not just a cheap prayer at the doorstep. I am all for praying a prayer of salvation, but that is not what saves. Turning from their sin to their Savior is what saves.

Finally, the individual must be confronted with a choice. Jesus models this for us in verses 21-26. He takes her attempt to get off topic (verse 20) and plows right ahead with what she needs to hear. We should not always tell people what they want to hear. We do not need to be politically correct all the time. We just need to tell people what they need to hear. We should speak the truth in love, but nevertheless, speak the truth. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

John chapter 5 brings us to the healing of the blind man. In chapter 1 we see “the Lamb of God’. Chapter 2 brings us to the “Power of God”. Chapter 3 tells of the “Salvation of God”. Chapter 4 shows the “Concern of God”. And now chapter 5 brings to the “Healing Power of God”.

The Pool of Bethesda

In verses 1-9, the story is relayed of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda. Let us begin at the end. In verse 16, we are told, “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” This healing is the third miracle Jesus had performed in this book. First, He turned the water into wine (chapter 2). Then in chapter 4 after His trip to the Samaritan woman he healed the nobleman’s son in Capernaum.

Now as we have seen, He heals the impotent man. This stirs up the hate of the Jews and they seek to kill Him. This third miracle is really the turning point of Christ’s ministry. The rest of Christ’s ministry will be watched very closely, as the Jews wait to take Him. Why? Because He performed miracles they could not? No. Because He made Himself to be the Son of God. No one, not even the Son of God could bring these rebellious religious leaders to the Truth.

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Comments 10 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

I very much enjoyed these stories, you told them very well and lead me right along with you. I do think many Christian people make mistakes in the way they witness to people. I don't really want to say how; to judge them, but a softer, gentler approach I do think would have a better result. All we are required is to plant the seed anyway and that should be much to do with our lives and the light that shines from it.

It probably is not the answer but doing just a little study lately on Jewish calendar they went by back then made their day start at like 6 in the evening (such as ours starting at midnight) so possibly when Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night it still was the start of a 24 hour period which begins at night? Just a thought.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Jackie,

You always seem to get here first - thank you. That's an interesting thought about Nicodemus. I never thought of that, but could very well be. I'm always glad you along for the ride, and I'm glad it's meaningful for you. Thanks again for making the trip!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

A wonderful devotion and study for this morning before heading off to work. I especially loved the section about proceeding with caution when witnessing. So true, as we need to determine where the person is spiritual, before we go on running our mouths.

Up and more, pinning and tweeting

God bless you. In His Love,

Faith Reaper


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Faith,

Hope you have a good day at work.Tthanks for checking in before you start your day. May the God of all comfort and peace be with you throughout your busy day!


graceinus 2 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

Lifegate- A very good Hub. I found it to be well worth reading. One thing you mentioned that I had not paid attention to before . The fact that the " Great Commission" is noted in all four of the gospels. Thanks for helping me learn something new today.

God bless


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

You're quite welcome, graceinus. I've learned so much from studying this book. It's full of all kinds of little gems. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota

I appreciate the clarification on the being born of water issue. That makes the most sense in context of what Jesus is trying to get through to Nicodemus. It also lines up all the other images and patterns from scripture flesh first spirit second Adam (flesh)/Chirst(spirit) Cain(flesh)/Abel(spirit) Esau(flesh)/Jacob(spirit) etc...

the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual ~ I Corinthians 15:46

The woman at the well story is so precious to me because of how much I relate to how the Lord dealt with me and drew me in. So fascinating how she thinks to make small talk about religion as a possible distraction when it is revealed that it is truly the root of her problem (who she worships) Great idea in showcasing the story as a tempelate to reach others for Christ.

Great series!


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Ho Tammy,

There is sooo much in this book. It's hard to decide what to include and what to necessarily leave out. But for sure the woman at the well is classic. I think we can all relate to her in one way or another; and the many lessons - the well is never dry! Thanks for the visit and sharing your time and thoughts.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Bill, I love Bible Study and I know that I would love being in your class. I always learn from you. Thanks for these explanations, especially on "born again" in Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus. Looking forward to more.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Good Morning MsDora,

I think John is one of the most fascinating books in the Bible. There's so much to take in. and of course, we'll never exhaust it. Thanks for being a part. I always look forward to you visits.

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